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Thales expands presence in Saudi Arabia by focusing on defense and civil aviation

Paris: Thales, a multinational defense and civilian company, is committed to strengthening its presence in Saudi Arabia and expanding its presence in line with the country’s “Vision 2030” initiative, a leader of the multinational defense and civilian company told Arab News.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show, Pascal Souris, president of Thales International, said the group wanted not only to strengthen the kingdom’s defense sector but also to expand into other areas such as security, civil aviation and higher education.

Thales focuses on areas such as defense and security, aerospace, digital identity and security. Currently, the company operates in 68 countries and has 77,000 employees.

The company has been a trusted partner for Saudi Arabia for more than 50 years, steadily expanding its footprint in the region, Sourisse said, adding: “The first area of ​​our business in Saudi Arabia was defence.

“We support all the armed forces in Saudi Arabia: air force, defense force, army, navy, so it’s a very strong force.”

In line with the “Vision 2030” strategy to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from dependence on oil, Thales established a joint venture called “SAMI Thales Electronic Systems” with Saudi Arabian Military Industries in 2020 to Strengthening capabilities and localizing the complete value chain in Saudi Arabia.

Sourisse highlighted the need for a strong Saudi supply chain, saying: “It is important to have enough players from the Saudi supply chain, not just supply chains from the rest of the world.”

Stressing its goal of meeting customer needs, especially in the fields of air defense and radio communications, Thales plans to expand its team of engineers in Saudi Arabia to more than 300 or 400 over the next two years.

This ambitious approach is in line with the company’s determination to execute award-winning projects and provide full support to the installed base directly from Saudi Arabia.

While defense has been Thales’ dominant sector in Saudi Arabia for decades, the company has also expanded its focus to other sectors.

It has provided security systems for the holy sites of Mecca and Medina and was recently selected to provide a security solution for the AlUla archaeological site in northeastern Saudi Arabia. Thales is also exploring opportunities to provide security solutions for projects such as NEOM and Red Sea.

Sourisse emphasized the importance of exporting from Saudi Arabia, saying: “The capabilities we have built in Saudi Arabia are not just to serve the Saudi Arabian market.”


• The company has been a trusted partner in Saudi Arabia for over 50 years, steadily expanding its footprint in the region.

• In 2020, Thales established a joint venture called SAMI Thales Electronic System with the Saudi Arabian Military Industries Corporation to build capabilities and localize the complete value chain in Saudi Arabia.

• While defense has been Thales’ dominant sector in Saudi Arabia for decades, the company has also expanded its focus to other sectors.

• It provides security systems for the holy sites of Mecca and Medina and was recently selected to provide a security solution for the AlUla archaeological site.

• Thales is also exploring opportunities to provide security solutions for projects such as NEOM and Red Sea.

By bringing these capabilities into its global network, Thales aims to meet client needs beyond the Middle East, further strengthening its position as a global leader.

In the interview, Souris disclosed Thales’ involvement in civil aviation and air traffic management.

The company is working closely with the Kingdom’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation on activities in these areas. One of the company’s key products in this space is “Flight to Gate” – which uses biometric sensors to directly identify people.

“When you use the solution, it’s an end-to-end solution, you can check in at home, provide the necessary information, and then go through a biometric solution so you can be identified at the checkpoint,” Souris said. .

“This enables operators to reduce the time spent at checkpoints by at least 30%. So, handling passenger flow is very efficient and ensures that the passenger experience is really improved because they don’t have to queue as long at all these checkpoints.” Technology and Innovation Still is at the heart of the Thales method. The company utilizes artificial intelligence and digital solutions to optimize systems, enhance user experience and ensure maximum safety.

Furthermore, Thales takes sustainability very seriously and is committed to continuing to improve the greenness of its solutions.

Pascale Sourisse, President, Thales International

Sourisse underscores Thales’ commitment to research and development, investing more than 4 billion euros per year.

To ensure a skilled workforce, the company partners with universities and conducts in-house training programs to provide engineers with the specific knowledge needed for its talents, products and solutions.

Diversity and gender equality are also at the top of Thales’ agenda. Sourisse is pleased with finding motivated and capable female engineers in Saudi Arabia, and has plans for the company to hire more female talent.

Thales is not the only French company seeing growth opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

At the Paris Air Show, SAMI signed an agreement with the French aerospace company Safran to help the Saudi Defense Company’s aircraft accessories and components company launch maintenance services for major helicopter landing gear such as the Super Puma and Puma.

Like SAMI chief executive Sourisse, Walid Abukhaled was keen to talk about the importance of these deals in boosting the kingdom’s production capacity.

He told Arab News during the air show: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, all OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) have experienced huge problems in the supply chain, not only in the defense sector, but also in the automotive industry, the food industry All walks of life, all walks of life. I believe Saudi Arabia will now be a huge asset to all of these OEMs.”

He added: “We’ve had collaborations and discussions with all our partners and other OEMs, and there are real opportunities. We’ll be announcing these at the World Defense Show in February 2024… About the Saudi company How to be part of a global supply chain.”

The executive reiterated that SAMI aims to become one of the top 25 defense companies in the world by 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative includes localizing more than 50 percent of military equipment spending, transferring knowledge and technology, and building national expertise in manufacturing, maintenance, and R&D.


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